Penguin 3.0 – Are You Affected?

Laura Ginn

Google has revealed the latest release of their Penguin algorithm, which began on October 17th. First launched in 2012, Penguin is an algorithm which identifies web spam, and heavily penalises those websites which engage in it. This penalty will generally come in the form of lower visibility in Google’s search results. Just as with the first release of this algorithm as well as 2.0, Penguin 3 may affect any website.

Photo by Mark Dumont
Photo by Mark Dumont

If you’ve noticed a substantial change in your rankings and overall organic traffic, you will need to take steps to identify and correct the problems which led to the penalty. However, it is first important understand how Penguin 3.0 functions, as well as its relationship to previous versions and what you can do to recover.

Penguin 3.0 Nuts and Bolts

Penguin 3 shares many commonalities with its forebears. Its goal is to reduce spam while enhancing search results through the elimination or penalization of links which are unnatural. Just as with the transition from Penguin 1 to Penguin 2, Penguin 3 has become more complex. No information has been released on how many search queries it has influenced, but it is likely that it will be the same as we saw with Penguin 2. Google has stated that Penguin 3 marks a significant change to their algorithm, and is not merely an update.

Should You Worry?

While Penguin 3 is certainly important, it only has a major impact on about 4 percent of search queries. What this means is that major offenders are unlikely to be affected as they likely already were hit by Penguin 1 and 2. In any case, you should still analyse your rankings and organic traffic to see if there have been any major changes over the last few days. Because the rollout is essentially over, you should be able to determine whether your website has been hit.

Those who’ve noticed big drops in traffic since October 17th may have been affected, while those who noticed an increase in traffic may have recovered from a penalty which was imposed by Penguin 2. It is also possible that Google could tweak Penguin 3 in the near future.

Recovering from Penguin 3.0

Those who’ve noticed drops in their traffic since the latest release of Penguin must take steps to correct it. However, it is important to understand that this will be a long term recovery; there are no overnight solutions for a ranking drop as a result of Penguin. You will first need to identify crappy links and web spam which is on your website. Having lots of bad inbound links can be a cause for ranking drop.

Links from article directories, link farms and the like must be removed. Links that you purchased in order to increase your ranking are another example (this should not be confused with advertising). Links which come from directories which are not in the same industry as your website should also be deleted. Contact the webmasters of these sites and ask them to remove your link, and if they refuse to do so, you can disavow them. Other things to remove from your site include keyword stuffing, hidden text, and the cloaking of links. There are also professional services that can analyse your inbound links and help you identify the bad ones.